Mike Merrell’s Three and Out
A recent article posted on obnug.com declared that the Pac-12 could make a “butt load of money by dumping Wazzou [sic].” It’s an idea that has some merit. There’s no way the Cougars could be bringing in their share of revenues – although that doesn’t stop them from taking their share of the pie.
But there are a few clues that the article isn’t completely objective.
First, the writer didn’t know how to spell “Wazzu,” so you know right away he’s not a Pac-12 man — or woman. Second, if you look at the fine print, you will notice that “OBNUG” is a clever acronym for “One Bronco Nation Under God.” And the writer claimed his name is “B.D. Bronco.”
Yes, at least one Boise State fan is suggesting that the Pac-12 should dump Wazzu for Smurf Turf and Blue Horses, and that is the subject of this week’s Three-and-Out.
1. Wazzu. Even though the criteria for drumming a school out of the conference are probably impossibly difficult, the Cougars definitely deserve to be placed on double secret probation — at a minimum. To say that the Cougs do not compare well to the other Pac-12 schools in sports is akin to saying that I’m not as good a quarterback as Marcus Mariota.
The Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup rankings for the 2014-15 year rate athletic performance by school, taking all NCAA sports into account. Stanford, UCLA and USC nailed down the top three positions for Division I. Cal (12), the Ducks (13) and the Huskies (24) all made the top 25. Everybody else – except Wazzu — came in between 30th and 65th.
Then you work your way down the list, passing by Gonzaga, Bill & Mary, Furman, Jimmy Madison, Portland, even Sacred Heart — which I suspect is secretly the Little Sisters of the Poor — and a bunch of schools you’ve never heard of. And finally, there they are in the No. 170 spot — the Washington State Cougars.
“Mr. Bronco” got it right that Pullman doesn’t have much of a population base to support the Cougs, but failed to mention that heavily-couged Spokane — which is comparable in size to Boise — is only 70 miles away. The Cougs also have a substantial following in a little coastal community known as Seattle, not to mention all of Eastern Washington, including the Tri-Cities, which probably has the biggest Wazzu following per capita in the state. As opposed to Boise State, which no doubt has a substantial following in Pocatello.
But you don’t fall to No. 170 in the Directors’ Cup standings by only being bad at football, where the Cougs keep us up way past bedtime by throwing incomplete passes through the final seconds of every game, even when they’re down by 5 TDs.
The Cougars just plain suck at pretty much everything, and you couldn’t really blame the Pac-12 for looking for a replacement, but…
2. Hold your horses, Bronco fans! Yes, with a metro population of 660,000 — including five surrounding counties — greater Boise has maybe 100,000 more folks than the Spokane area. And yes, as Mr. Bronco points out, someday there may be a million people. And yes, the stadium that Joe Albertson built with our grocery dollars does hold 4,000 more spectators than WSU’s dinky Martin Stadium, and we know that some day it may be expanded to 55,000.
But the article overstates the Blue Horses’ level of support. The history of BSU as a four-year institution goes back only to 1965, so the roots and depth of alumni support are dwarfed by WSU, a larger school which goes back to 1890. And the assertion that the Broncos have 1.6 million viewers locked-in statewide makes the reality-impaired judgment call that the entire state of Idaho is solidly right behind the horse.
Ugh. Not a good place to be. I live in North Idaho myself, and honestly, you see about twice as many green and yellow O’s around town as you see blue horses. Truth is, the northern part of the state isn’t all that fond of anything Boise.
Furthermore, academics do matter to the Pac-12, and Boise State just isn’t in the same league as Wazzu, which — much to the Pac-12’s liking — is a land grant university well-known for programs in chemical engineering, animal, food and plant sciences, architecture and neuroscience. U.S. News & World Reports classifies WSU — and all the other Pac-12 schools — as “national universities.” BSU is classified as a “regional university.”
But the idea of trading WSU in on a new model isn’t a bad idea. It just shouldn’t be Boise State. It should be…
3. San Diego State. The OBNUG article glosses over the possibility of going with another California school on the grounds that the four current members have the state covered. Maybe Mr. Bronco has never bucked his way to California, but for those who haven’t noticed, California is a really, really big state. And it has lots of people — about 39 million.
Even split-up five ways instead of four, that would be nearly 8 million per school — and 8 million is way more than 1.6 million. Trust me, I’m a CPA, so I know these things.
The San Diego metro area alone is more than 3 million souls strong, nearly twice the population of Idaho, even counting all of us Ducks fans who live here. San Diego State has an alumni base of 280,000 and 60 percent of them live in the San Diego area.
The Broncos play in a 37,000 seat stadium that hosts the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. San Diego State plays in a stadium that seats more than 70,000 and has hosted three Super Bowls. And the turf is green.
Granted, Boise State had a 10-2 record in football last year to San Diego State’s 7-6. And yes, they did beat the Aztecs on the Smurf Turf 38-29, but only thanks to a fourth-quarter rally after trailing at the end of the third quarter. So the Aztecs aren’t all that far behind the Broncos and may be strategically placed to make up ground faster if admitted to the Pac-12.
Other sports? Boise State finished 64th in the Directors’ Cup standings, well above Wazzu. But who finished 63rd? San Diego State.
U.S. News & World Reports classifies San Diego State as a “national university,” ranked a mere 11 places below Wazzu.
And would the Northwest teams — which have been relegated to football games in southern California only once every two years — rather have the exposure of a game on the Smurf Turf or a game every year in the recruiting hotbed of Southern California?
Ah, but SD State would be in the Pac-12 South? Why not put it in the North? It’s not as though being geographically correct is that important to the Pacific-12. Not a drop of rain that falls on Salt Lake City, Utah, or Boulder, Colorado ever makes it to the Pacific.
The front end of Mr. Bronco’s idea — to ditch Wazzu — is not all that bad. The other thought though — to bring in Boise State — is truly straight from the horse’s rear end.
Top photo from Video
Mike (Editor-in-Chief) is a 1970 graduate of the University of Oregon where he attended the Honors College and received all-conference honors as a swimmer. After college, Mike ran for the Oregon Track Club and narrowly missed qualifying for the US Olympic Trials in the marathon. He continues his involvement in sports with near-daily swimming or running workouts, occasional masters swim competition (where he has received two Top-10 World rankings), providing volunteer coaching to local triathletes and helping out with FishDuck.com.
Mike lives on 28 acres in the forest near Sandpoint, Idaho, where he has served as a certified public accountant for most of his working career. His current night job is writing novels about Abby Westminster, the only known illegitimate daughter of Britain’s finest secret agent who has to bring down arch-villains plotting dastardly deeds. And, yes, Abby is also a DUCK!
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